Big-voiced Broadway leading lady Caissie Levy is making her 54 Below debut with her one-night-only concert With You on March 10. The show celebrates the release of Levy’s freshman album of the same name and also includes renditions of songs she’s performed on stage. Below, Levy talks about her musical transition from Birkenstock hippie to “grunge girl” to Broadway diva.
What record/album was your favorite growing up?
Too many to mention! Growing up, there was a lot of Beatles and Rolling Stones in our house. I have older brothers who were very into Michael Jackson when we were little, so all our home videos are of us singing “Thriller.” By the time I got to high school, I was listening to a ton of Bob Dylan and Joni Mitchell and wearing Birkenstocks with wool socks to school. Not my best look. Then I found my way to "grunge girl" land so I was all about Nirvana, the Smashing Pumpkins, REM, Pearl Jam, Hole and Blind Melon.
What concert most influenced you as a performer?
Radiohead was, and still is, one of my favorite bands, and I saw them many times during my high school years. My parents even let me skip school once to line up for tickets. (I have very cool parents.) Thom Yorke's voice gets me on a really base level, and I just connect with his songwriting and his phrasing and tone. Seeing them live always made me feel like I was experiencing something once-in-a-lifetime.
What is your go-to audition song?
Whatever they send me to learn and sing from the show. Thankfully my years of singing cut versions of "Out Here On My Own" and "Somebody to Love" are over. Or are they?
What song are you most excited to perform in your show?
I'm excited to play all the tracks from my record, but probably most excited to do my version of "I'm Not That Girl." We've gotten a great reaction to our arrangement, it's really folky and understated, so I'm excited to sing that again. As for non-record stuff, I'm looking forward to singing a certain Rufus Wainwright song that I've wanted to do live for ages.
What musical theater track is the most played on your iPod?
I think I only own Falsettoland and Rent aside from my own cast recordings of Ghost and Hair. So I guess it's a toss up between "Unlikely Lovers" and "I'll Cover You (Reprise).”
If you could invite any performer onstage for a duet at 54 Below, who would it be?
My buddy, Aaron Tveit, and I were trying to make something work, but unfortunately he couldn't swing it with the promotion schedule for his new TV series. We played Penny and Link alongside each other on the Hairspray tour and later got to play those roles together on Broadway. He also joined the Rent tour right after I finished, and we'd love to do something together again. Maybe next time!
What album was the soundtrack to your 20s?
Alanis Morissette's Jagged Little Pill probably.
What song makes you feel sexy?
"Cross My Mind" by Jill Scott.
Favorite break-up song?
"Don't Think Twice" by Bob Dylan. I've been singing it for years and I'm doing it Sunday night at 54 Below—one of my favorite songs of all time.
What song most makes you smile?
“3x5” by John Mayer. Love what he has to say about being in the moment rather than capturing everything for others to see.
Check out Caissie Levy’s With You concert at 54 Below on March 10 at 9:30 PM, and preview her performance of "I'm Not That Girl" below.